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At Home With Anna Cascarina: Discussing Her New Book ‘The Forever Wardrobe,’ Ageless Style And Breaking Fashion Rules

Anna Cascarina, a fashion editor, stylist, and content creator, has likely caught your eye on social media with her distinctive yet timeless style. Now an author, we had the opportunity to capture her at home in some of her favourite Whistles pieces before launching her book, ‘The Forever Wardrobe.’ We delved into topics such as approaching ageless style, writing her new book, and challenging conventional fashion norms.

Anna, tell us about yourself…
My name is Anna. I have worked in the fashion industry for over 25 years as a fashion editor, stylist, content creator, and now author. I’m also a mum of two.

And about your new book, ‘The Forever Wardrobe,’ what’s the central angle and what sets it apart?
‘The Forever Wardrobe’ is a book that helps all women take control of their wardrobe. I want to help them create a working capsule wardrobe based on their style and personality, saving them time and money in the long run. It’s a practical and helpful guide with worksheets and illustrations to help you find your style and create the ultimate wardrobe. It takes into account everyone’s different style, whether it’s more neutral or full of colour and print. So it’s got something for everybody, rather than conventional ideas around capsule wardrobes focusing on just 20 items.

The term “capsule wardrobe” has become a bit of a buzzword, and I wanted to show that it doesn’t have to be limited to just blazers and white shirts. A capsule wardrobe can cater to everyone’s unique style. My book includes a comprehensive section on discovering your style, organising your wardrobe, deciding what to include, ignoring unnecessary rules, and shopping on a budget.

Delving into the creation of ‘The Forever Wardrobe’, could you walk us through your creative process and the inspiration behind it?
I always had a book on my vision board, and when Bloomsbury Publishing approached me, I jumped at the chance. Since I was a fashion student, it has been essential to be as original as possible, so I always wore things to try and stand out. I wanted to be different. With the rise of social media, there’s less experimentation; many people follow the same trends, which is a shame because fashion is the perfect way to express personality.

Despite having a short time to write the book, the time pressure was beneficial. I drew inspiration from the frequently asked questions and feedback from the women who follow me, focusing on how I can best support them.

With the rise of social media, there’s less experimentation; many people follow the same trends, which is a shame because fashion is the perfect way to express personality.

You mentioned working closely with an illustrator on this project. Can you tell us more about the illustrations in the book and how that process worked?
She was amazing. Her name was Ludivine Josephine, and she’s based in Florida. We worked closely together to create timeless illustrations that were also fun and inspiring, so there was a lot to balance and get right. I also wanted to ensure that the illustrations were as diverse as possible and included disabilities. It’s really important to me, and Ludivine was amazing at doing that. I wanted to make sure everyone could relate to them.

Every project comes with its own set of hurdles… Could you highlight any unique challenges you encountered while writing ‘The Forever Wardrobe’ and how you overcame them?
Initially, I was worried about the timeframe, as I was given two months to complete the book. However, I enjoyed the process once I started, and the deadline motivated me. A significant challenge was condensing the word count, but the team at Bloomsbury was fantastic in keeping me on track, and my editor was terrific. Working with an illustrator was another new challenge. It isn’t easy to convey an image you have in your head to someone else, but she was incredible, and it all came together beautifully in the end.

Before we discuss forever wardrobes and this approach to styling further, how would you describe your personal style?

I’ve definitely changed my style in the last 10 years. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more minimal. When I was younger and a fashion student, it was anything goes—I just wanted to experiment. I still love experimenting, but now I prefer minimal aesthetics. However, it’s important to me to still add personality. I talk a lot about this in the book. I achieve this with an attractive silhouette or accessories that bring a sense of individuality. It’s essential to do this so we don’t all look the same.

What does a “forever wardrobe” mean to you, and when did you start embracing this mindset in your shopping and styling?
‘A Forever Wardrobe’ is about creating a collection of pieces you love that suit your style, bring you joy, and will last. That’s important. Collectively, we all have a responsibility for what we’re buying. We can’t sustain the amount of clothes made and discarded yearly. Over the last few years, I’ve been slowly editing my wardrobe to include only pieces that I wear repeatedly. I follow the 80:20 rule as much as possible, which means having 80% of my wardrobe be timeless pieces that last season after season and then adding 20% of trend-led pieces to bring some fun into my wardrobe. After all, I love fashion and don’t want to be bored. I am mindful of what those pieces are.

I prefer minimal aesthetics now. However, it’s important to me to still add personality. I achieve this with an interesting silhouette or accessories that bring a sense of individuality. It’s important to do this so we don’t all look the same.

What advice would you give those looking to make similar changes and build a forever wardrobe?
If you start to find your style and know what you love, then you can start to cut out all of the noise. Instead of buying every trend you see or trying to replicate someone else’s style, you’ll know what’s for you and what you need in your wardrobe.

What’s your favourite piece of clothing or accessory that you own, and what makes it special to you?
My Chanel classic flap bag was a surprise gift from my husband for my 40th birthday—he got the exact one I would have chosen myself. I actually cried when I opened it. It’s completely timeless, and I love it so much. It’s pristine, as I’ve looked after it so well.

How do you approach styling for different seasons?
I have a selection of pieces I wear throughout the year, such as cashmere sweaters. Then, I have my core pieces for each season. In winter, I’m more minimal, and I like structured things. I’m more experimental with colour in the warmer months. I like to add brights and prints alongside earthy colours like brown and khaki in the spring-summer. I opt for more flowy 70s shapes in the summer, too.

…and occasions?
Many people struggle with this, and we don’t want to spend loads on things we will only wear once or twice. However, I have some beautiful dresses I’ve owned for years, which I bring out each summer for occasions like weddings. I suggest renting more often, as it’s a fantastic way to wear something special without buying a whole new wardrobe. There are also many rental places with sustainable practices and dry cleaning, so it’s worth looking into.

If you could raid the wardrobe of any fictional character, be that from a book, film or TV show, whose wardrobe would you choose?
Growing up, I adored Pretty in Pink, so Andy is one of my top picks. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is also a favourite, and Holly Golightly’s style, by Audrey Hepburn, is iconic. I also admire Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in Scarface and, of course, Carrie Bradshaw.

And if you could travel in time to any fashion era, which would you choose?
The 70s because I’m a child of the seventies. I love that retro aesthetic: prints, fringing suede and leather. I’d also love to delve into the 20s and the era of flapper dresses. It was an exciting time for women. After being corseted and more restrained, they had a new sense of freedom.

What’s one fashion rule you believe should be broken more often?
I address age and ageism in fashion a lot, and it bothers me when people feel restricted from wearing certain things based on age. Everyone, regardless of age, gender, size, or ethnicity, should feel free to experiment and wear what brings them joy. As we age, societal expectations around wardrobe change, and it’s frustrating. I want us to break free from those constraints and wear whatever we want.

What do you want readers to take away from ‘The Forever Wardrobe’?
I want people to feel unapologetic and confident in what they wear. I want them to open their wardrobe in the morning and feel empowered and excited when they get dressed. I want them to have a wardrobe full of clothes they love and wear repeatedly. They shouldn’t feel intimidated or say, ‘I’ve got nothing to wear.’ I want them to feel like they can open their wardrobe and know that whatever they choose, they’ll look good, feel good, and express their personality.

The Forever Wardrobe: Find your style. Transform your clothes. Save time and money by Anna Cascarina, published by Bloomsbury on 23 May 2024

As we age, societal expectations around wardrobe change, and it’s frustrating. I want us to break free from those constraints and wear whatever we want.


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